The Florida Keys and Key West is a 126 mile long string of Islands connected to South Florida by the scenic Overseas Highway; a road that suspends the traveller in a place that bridges the gap between sea and sky. In the Florida Keys you are a world away from the theme parks of central Florida, in a place that envelopes you with its warmth and beauty and grants you permission to shed the worries of the real world you just left behind! The turquoise blue waters that surrounds Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West is a treasure trove both above and below.
03 Jul 23NEWS
Florida Keys podcast marks BicentennialThe final episode of the Florida Keys Traveler podcast series is to air today commemorating ...Read moreFlorida Keys podcast marks Bicentennial - News & announcementsThe final episode of the Florida Keys Traveler podcast series is to air today commemorating the Keys' 200th bicentennial birthday. It features commentary by a 104-year-old resident. The Florida Territorial Legislature established Monroe County, covering the entire 125-mile-long Keys island chain, on July 3, 1823. The final podcast, titled "Happy 200th Birthday, Florida Keys!" rounds off a 30-episode documentary-style series that celebrates two centuries of the Florida Keys. It was recorded on-site at more than 25 locations. Hosted by veteran broadcaster and journalist Elizabeth Harryman Lasley, it has taken listeners through the island chain's history from the early 1800s to the present. Commentary and perspectives are provided by Florida Keys historians, community leaders and local personalities. Topics included shipwreck salvage and maritime heritage, cultural and artistic expression, sport fishing, diversity and Black and Cuban history. It also focused on the environment and conservation. The final episode features 104-year-old Key West resident Onelio Gonzalez. Gonzalez recalls Ernest Hemingway walking the island streets and President Harry S. Truman at his Little White House in Key West. He also speaks of riding on Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, completed in 1912 and stretching from Florida's southern mainland throughout the Keys. The podcast is available on more than 25 platforms including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.
30 Jun 23NEWS
Top experiences in the Florida KeysThis holiday weekend is a double celebration for the Florida Keys. On 3 July 2023 ...Read moreTop experiences in the Florida Keys - News & announcementsThis holiday weekend is a double celebration for the Florida Keys. On 3 July 2023 the Florida Keys celebrates the 200th 'birthday' - marking the anniversary of the 1823 founding of Monroe County. As Fourth of July festivities kick off around the nation, the Florida Keys marks its own unique milestone. Discover five 'must-do' Keys experiences for travellers wanting to make the most of their visit to Southern Florida. Drive the Florida Keys Overseas Highway: Beginning just south of Miami, the Florida Keys are connected by the Overseas Highway's 42 bridges over the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. The southernmost leg of U.S. Highway 1 is also known as the 'Highway that Goes to Sea' and is counted as an iconic, bucket list drive. Amongst the highlights is the Seven Mile Bridge, which stretches 6.79 miles across open water. Get on and in the water: The coastal waters of the entire island chain have been designated the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Within these boundaries lies a spectacular and unique ecosystem, which includes the continental United States' only living barrier coral reef. There are plentiful ways for visitors to embrace this pristine natural attraction, Go snorkelling or take a glass bottom boat tour, or kayaking and paddleboarding. The Florida Keys also offer world-class fishing and diving. Enjoy a wildlife encounter: One-of-a-kind wildlife encounters in the Florida Keys include getting up close to bottlenose dolphins in the wild, spotting Key deer and marvelling at manatees. Head to the Turtle Hospital to learn about its work in healing sick and injured sea turtles and observe native and migratory birds. Visit author Ernest Hemingway's former home in Key West to meet its resident clan of polydactyl (six-toed) cats, many of them direct descendants of the writer's own cat Snow White. Discover the backcountry: Unspoiled and teeming with plant and marine life, the 'backcountry' is ruled by the natural ebb and flow of the ocean. Its mangrove islands, turtle grass flats and sponge flats are a busy ecosystem that is home to everything from tiny aquatic animals to lobster, stingrays and barracuda. Take a guided backcountry tour by kayak to explore the undiscovered Keys. Explore the island city of Key West: Continental America's southernmost city, situated closer to Cuba than to Miami, Key West is characterized by quaint palm-studded streets, century-old mansions, and a uniquely relaxing way of life. The 2-by-4-mile island has been home to such literary greats as Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and President Harry S. Truman, who spent 11 working holidays here. Visitors can enjoy eco-experiences, a wide variety of water sports and excursions, culinary tours, and a rich calendar of festivals and special events. It also boasts a lively nightlife and daily sunset celebrations at Mallory Square.
10 Jun 23NEWS
Florida Keys serves up a tasty bicentennial dishFlorida Keys visitors and residents will commemorate the island chain's bicentennial Monday, July 3 with ...Read moreFlorida Keys serves up a tasty bicentennial dish - News & announcementsFlorida Keys visitors and residents will commemorate the island chain's bicentennial Monday, July 3 with the world's largest Key lime pie. Part of the "Florida Keys 200" events calendar, it follows with a laser light show and fireworks. The festivities salute the 200th anniversary of the Florida Territorial Legislature's founding of Monroe County, on July 3, 1823. "Keys 200" events have been staged around the island chain leading up to the anniversary. Bicentennial activities culminate 200 years to the day after Monroe County's establishment with the world's largest serving of the Keys' most iconic dessert. It is set for 5-10 p.m. at Big Pine Community Park, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. "What better way to celebrate this fabulous milestone than at one of the largest community events in the Lower Keys?" said Julie Schilling, president of the Rotary Club of the Lower Keys. "We're very excited to celebrate with Monroe County on the actual date of the 200th anniversary”. The huge pie created by Key West chefs Kermit Carpenter and Paul Menta, is expected to measure 13.14 feet in diameter. It is prepared with a traditional graham-cracker crust and whipped cream topping. Ingredients include juice from several thousand Key limes, more than 55 gallons of sweetened condensed milk and over 200 pounds of graham crackers. The pie will be certified in a resolution by Monroe County commissioners. The bicentennial event will also feature a photo booth; bounce house, slide and games for kids; and food trucks. Fireworks are accompanied by a patriotic laser light show, created by Key West Lasers. They will use high-powered performance lasers to generate a colorful mid-air presentation. Additional activities are to include live music by Keys band Brian Roberts and the Prime Movers, as well as former American Idol finalist and Lower Keys resident Kristen McNamara.
17 Apr 23Partner News
Coral Restoration, Turtle Release and Other Highlights to Mark Earth Day in the Florida KeysThe Florida Keys and Key West are putting Earth Day in the spotlight with ...Read moreCoral Restoration, Turtle Release and Other Highlights to Mark Earth Day in the Florida Keys - News & announcementsThe Florida Keys and Key West are putting Earth Day in the spotlight with a wide range of activities throughout the island chain on and around 22 April 2023. Every day is a reason to celebrate the beauty of the planet in the Florida Keys, full of natural wonders including ten state parks, two national parks, four federally protected havens and the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. Earth Day specific activities include: Coral Fragging Party with Captain Hook’s In the Lower Keys, Captain Hook’s on Big Pine Key is teaming with Reef Renewal USA for a three-day immersive ‘Make a Difference’ citizen science initiative leading up to Earth Day that enables divers to gain knowledge while actively aiding reef restoration. The programme is to begin with a Coral Fragging Party set for 20 - 22 April to study and participate in fragmenting corals into small pieces for widespread propagation. Divers can then suit up 22 April for an Earth Day Coral Nursery Dive to work on ‘coral tree’ development and planting. Earth Day Inspired International Film Festival Screening To kick off Earth Day weekend, Mote Marine Laboratory is to present the ‘Youth Making Ripples’ International Film Festival Screening on Friday 21 April, at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Centre in Key West. The screening is to feature entries from the current year’s competition and top films from previous years. Topics range from local marine concerns to a specific call to action for marine conservation. Doors open at 5 p.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting celebration for the reopening of Mote’s coral research and restoration exhibit at the centre at 5:30 p.m. The film screening will start at 6 p.m. Celebrate Earth Day with NASA Scientists Islamorada’s History of Diving Museum, NASA and Coastlove are to host an action-packed Earth Day event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 22 April at Marathon International Airport. NASA earth scientists are to be on hand to talk about their climate work in South Florida aboard the agency’s Blueflux carbon-monitoring aircraft. The scientists also will offer tours inside the plane to view monitoring instruments used for climate and environmental research. The History of Diving Museum is to have displays of vintage dive gear and information about the history of diving in the Florida Keys. To emphasise the connection between mangrove trees, which absorb atmospheric carbon, and the health of the Keys’ reefs and marine ecosystems, environmental organisation Coastlove and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission have scheduled a coastal clean-up and mangrove planting experience near the event site. Take Part in a Sea Turtle Release Wildlife enthusiasts can celebrate 22 April, with the Florida Keys–based Turtle Hospital by witnessing a planned sea turtle release at the Islander Resort in Islamorada. The Turtle Hospital ambulance is to arrive at 9:30 a.m. and the turtle will be released at 10 a.m. A licensed veterinary hospital dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles, the Turtle Hospital was opened in 1986 with the goal of healing injured sea turtles and returning them to the wild.
25 Mar 23NEWS
What’s new in the Florida KeysThe Florida Keys & Key West are preparing to celebrate a landmark 200th anniversary, with ...Read moreWhat’s new in the Florida Keys - News & announcementsThe Florida Keys & Key West are preparing to celebrate a landmark 200th anniversary, with activities throughout Monroe County. Keys museum exhibits, art showcases and festivals are themed to celebrate the island chain's historic bicentennial. Still, it’s not all about the past; The Florida Keys & Key West showcase a range of exciting new experiences and amenities opening this year. Keys Accommodations At Everglades National Park, the all-new 24-unit Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant is slated to officially open this fall. The lodge will offer 24 units with kitchenettes including studios and one- and two-bedroom suites fronting Florida Bay. The park's fully renovated pink Guy Bradley Visitor Center — with interactive exhibits and a gift shop— is also is scheduled to open this fall. The park is the continental United States' third-largest national park at 2,400 square miles. It celebrated its 75th anniversary in December 2022 in Monroe County's Flamingo area, a 50-minute drive from the park's entrance in Homestead, Florida. Bird species found in the park include the roseate spoonbill, white pelican, reddish egret and painted bunting. Visit nps.gov/ever or flamingoeverglades.com/flamingo-lodge-restaurant In Islamorada, the 12-acre Sun Outdoors Islamorada is scheduled to open in May. The resort features 82 full hookup RV sites with amenities including pergolas, outdoor kitchens, patio furniture, three marinas, pool, kayak and watersport offerings. Sun Outdoors also operates the Sun Outdoors Key Largo and Sun Outdoors Marathon properties. All three resorts are pet friendly. On-site are 48 pastel-hued vacation homes for sale. Visit soislamorada.com/or sunoutdoors.com In Islamorada, Chesapeake Beach Resort has unveiled additional new villas (with two more to open), a new boat ramp and a new dock. The property currently offers 52 units with balconies, 11 villas with outdoor paved patios, two pools, a beach bar cart and a beach venue for weddings and events. Villas, each with a kitchenette, include an 830-square-feet ocean king villa and more. Kayaks and fishing rods can be rented on-site. Visit chesapeake-resort.com On Duck Key, Hawks Cay Resort offers a new scuba partnership through Marathon-based Better Than Most Scuba, offering snorkeling, SDI and PADI dive certification, lobstering and spearfishing courses and excursions for resort guests. With its Coast Guard–certified vessel Diane Marie, the scuba operator takes a maximum 15 divers on each trip. The 60-acre Middle Keys resort has 177 guest rooms, 250 two- and three-bedroom villas and 20,000 square feet of oceanfront meeting and event space. Visit hawkscay.com or btmscuba.com Two new Florida Keys "Aqua Lodges" with waterfront two-bedroom, one-bath tiny house–style accommodations have been added in Marathon, and a central Keys reservation line and booking website are now live. An additional 38 Aqua Lodges are available for overnight stays at marinas in Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West. Each 350-square-feet lodge has a full kitchen, flat screen TV and air conditioning. Visit keyslodging.com In Key West, Mellow Ventures Backcountry Outfitters plans to unveil a catamaran cottage for overnight accommodations this spring. The new "Outpost," a fully restored former cigar-maker's cottage accommodates overnight parties of up to six. It is built on 50-feet catamaran hulls. All-inclusive, customized Backcountry Eco Vacations include on-the-water stays. Its Mellow Café & Gastropub on North Roosevelt Boulevard has expanded outdoor seating for up to 60. It serves vegan fare, artisan tacos, exotic meats and craft beer. Visit mellowkw.com/eco-vacations In Key West, 519-room The Keys Collection's four properties — The Gates Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Key West, 24 North Hotel and Fairfield Inn & Suites — offer lively monthly programming featuring "puppy yoga" classes and Paint & Sip Nights with local artist Lance Berry. The Collection's "Na Ma Sit & Stay Yoga" is held the second Sunday of each month. Admission is complimentary; a $10 donation per person is suggested with all proceeds donated to Florida Keys SPCA. The hotels collectively feature six bars, four pools and five dining options. Visit thekeyscollection.com Keys Attractions In Marathon, the Pigeon Key Visitor Center and Pigeon Key train depot have moved to a new location at the Historic Seven Mile Marina property. Pigeon Key Express train tours depart daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.. Lying beneath the historic Old Seven Mile Bridge, the tiny island of Pigeon Key was a work camp for laborers constructing the bridge in the early 1900s and now features restored buildings and a museum. Visit pigeonkey.net or call 305-743-5999. In Key West's Truman Waterfront Park, the family-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center has contemporary new exhibits that highlight Florida Keys mangrove habitats and allow interaction with life-size mangrove branches. A freestanding main exhibit focuses on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, while other exhibits include a colorful light-filled aquarium showcasing coral restoration, the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail and an interactive paddleboard experience through mangroves. Visit floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html In Key West, Pride of Key West, operated by Fury Water Adventures, carries on a glass-bottom boat tradition that marks its 70th anniversary this year. In 1953 the Fireball, the island's first commercial glass-bottom boat, began operating from a dock at the foot of Duval Street. Today the dock is home to Pride of Key West, a contemporary window on the undersea world that continues the city's seven-decade glass-bottom boat tradition. The 60-foot air-conditioned glass-bottom catamaran carries passengers on narrated eco-excursions to view the continental United States' only coral barrier reef. Visit furycat.com/key-west/glass-bottom-boats Keys Pride The Key West Business Guild is planning a 20th anniversary celebration to commemorate the island city's famed 1.25-mile-long sea-to-sea rainbow flag, billed as the world's longest rainbow flag. Events will take place during the Pride festivities set for June 7-11, 2023. The flag was sewn in Key West in 2003 by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker to mark the 25th anniversary of his original banner's debut. To highlight Pride 2003, it was unfurled by several thousand volunteers along the entire length of the island's Duval Street, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, with its ends dipped simultaneously into the two bodies of water. Visit gaykeywestfl.com/pride/ Keys Makers The Lower Keys' Grimal Grove, billed as the first and only breadfruit grove in the continental United States, has launched Mutiny Island Vodka – Grimal Grove Reserve. It's crafted in partnership with St. Croix–based Mutiny Island Reserve Vodka and is available at stores in Key Largo, Islamorada, Summerland Key and Key West. Future plans include distilling the spirit in the Keys. Grimal Grove also offers 90-minute guided "fruit excursions" showcasing species of subtropical fruits, trees and plants. Visitors can sample breadfruit and other fruits, attend plant clinics and learn about 1950s-era hermit Adolf Grimal, a recluse who designed Old Grimal Estate. It's open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon for guided and self-guided tours. Visit grimalgrove.com
17 Mar 23Partner News
Michelle Nicole Lowe’s ‘Keys Traveler’ Cover Art Depicts 200 Years of Florida Keys HistoryFlorida Keys artist Michelle Nicole Lowe, whose family heritage in the island chain spans ...Read moreMichelle Nicole Lowe’s ‘Keys Traveler’ Cover Art Depicts 200 Years of Florida Keys History - News & announcementsFlorida Keys artist Michelle Nicole Lowe, whose family heritage in the island chain spans more than a century, painted the colorful cover image for the 2023 Keys Traveler, the annual visitor magazine produced by the Florida Keys tourism council that is primarily distributed at travel shows. This year’s Keys Traveler celebrates Monroe County’s 2023 bicentennial. A resident of Islamorada, Lowe has a Keys connection that dates back to her great-grandfather’s arrival at Key West over a century ago from the Bahamas’ Green Turtle Cay. That enduring tie to the 125-mile-long island chain and her love of the ocean influenced the artist’s creative vision for the original watercolor titled “Florida Keys — 200 Years of Paradise” reproduced on the magazine’s cover. Lowe’s design includes elements found on, over and under the aquamarine waters of the Keys. Henry Flagler’s historic Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad train crossing a distinctive arched bridge, Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home, a marlin jumping behind the famed author’s beloved fishing boat and images of a leaping bottlenose dolphin, the Alligator Reef Lighthouse and a setting sun comprise the top portion of the painting. “I love Keys history and am really honored to have painted this piece to commemorate 200 years of the Florida Keys,” Lowe said. “As a teenager, I spent many evenings in front of one of Flagler's old bridges like the one in my painting as the last sliver of sun went under the horizon. “It's awesome these bridges — a significant part of our Keys history — still exist,” added Lowe. Underneath the bridge arches, Lowe included a double-masted schooner and some of the underwater creatures she sees during frequent dive and snorkel trips in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Elkhorn coral provides habitat for yellowtail snapper along with a hogfish and Florida lobster, while a sea turtle swims by. At the center is a queen conch shell, the iconic symbol of the Keys. Digital editions of the 2023 Keys Traveler are available for download at fla-keys.com/brochures-newsletters. Lowe’s artwork can be seen at the Michelle Nicole Lowe Gallery at 81904 Overseas Highway in Islamorada. Celebratory 200th anniversary activities are to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25, with the "200 Years of Paradise Kick-off Concert" at Key West’s Coffee Butler Amphitheater at Truman Waterfront Park. The program is to combine live music by noted regional entertainers Howard Livingston and Nick Norman, the showing of segments from South Florida PBS’ new documentary titled “The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise,” and drone “fireworks” with some 250 drones illuminating the sky. Additional Keys 200 event information can be found at fla-keys.com/keys200.
01 Mar 23Partner News
‘The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise’ to Debut Nationally March 1“The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise, ” an hourlong television documentary that explores ...Read more‘The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise’ to Debut Nationally March 1 - News & announcements“The Florida Keys: 200 Years of Paradise, ” an hourlong television documentary that explores the history of the continental United States’ southernmost island chain, is set to debut on many Public Broadcasting Service channels across the U.S. beginning March 1. Produced by South Florida PBS, the documentary’s nationwide airing coincides with the Florida Keys’ bicentennial year. The Florida Legislature established Monroe County, encompassing the entire 125-mile-long string of islands, on July 3, 1823. During the program, viewers journey through the region’s dramatic history as told through the eyes of residents who live and interpret that history every day. Topics include the Keys’ booms and busts, industries such as shipwreck salvage, cultural and artistic expression, sport fishing, community leaders, natural disasters and renewal, environmental conservation and the legacy of Black pioneers. Commentary from Florida Keys historians and others introduces viewers to the human side of the island chain’s two centuries of history, giving the story a deeply personal resonance. Viewers should check local listings for scheduled air dates and times. The program is supported by Badia Spices Inc. and The Florida Keys & Key West tourism council. Documentary information Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
22 Aug 22Partner News
Creative Costumes and Cartoon Chaos to Color Key West’s Fantasy FestRevelers can express their creativity by donning dazzling costumes during the annual Fantasy Fest ...Read moreCreative Costumes and Cartoon Chaos to Color Key West’s Fantasy Fest - News & announcementsRevelers can express their creativity by donning dazzling costumes during the annual Fantasy Fest celebration in Key West. Set for Friday, Oct. 21, through Sunday, Oct. 30, the 2022 festival is themed “Cult Classics & Cartoon Chaos.” Several dozen masquerade parties, quirky costume contests, live music and theater shows, and themed events are scheduled during the 10-day festival, culminating in a lavish grand parade featuring massive motorized floats and elaborately costumed marching groups. Participants are encouraged to draw costume ideas from the festival theme, portraying characters inspired by favorite cartoons and television or film productions with a cult following. Influences might include animated offerings like “Family Guy” or Hollywood classics like “Mad Max” or “Pulp Fiction.” Events begin Friday, Oct. 21, with the “Thanks for the Memories” Royal Coronation Ball to crown the festival king and queen, held at the Truman Waterfront’s Coffee Butler Amphitheater. Key West’s Caribbean roots are celebrated that weekend with Friday and Saturday’s family-friendly Goombay street party in historic Bahama Village. Subsequent festival highlights include Wednesday’s Pet Masquerade, where costumed dogs, cats, birds and more prance across the stage at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater. Contestants in the engaging antics might dress as Scooby Doo and his cohorts, cartoon feline Garfield, a flock of Angry Birds or even Wallace and Gromit of British film fame. Thursday brings the lavish Headdress Ball, also to be held at the amphitheater, featuring prizes for the best masks and headdresses. Typically sporting feathers, glitter and glitzy accessories, many entries tower above their wearers’ heads in a fine display of design artistry. The cartoon chaos takes to the streets Friday, Oct. 28, during the Captain Morgan Masquerade March. A favorite of Florida Keys residents and visitors, the march features vividly costumed participants promenading from Key West’s Frances Street to an after-party at the Green Parrot Bar, 601 Whitehead St. Other festival standouts include the mini-but-mighty “Smallest Parade in the Universe,” tutu and toga parties, multigenre musical salutes, themed costume contests and the fun-filled Fantasy Market at Truman Waterfront Park. Saturday night, Oct. 29, tens of thousands of spectators are expected to line Key West’s Whitehead and Duval streets for the spectacular Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade. A procession of large-scale decorated floats, exotic marching groups and fantastically costumed characters, the parade displays the freewheeling creativity that has colored the festival for more than 40 years.
21 Mar 22Partner News
What’s New in the Florida Keys & Key West for Spring 2022Springtime in the Florida Keys & Key West is easy and breezy, with weather ...Read moreWhat’s New in the Florida Keys & Key West for Spring 2022 - News & announcementsSpringtime in the Florida Keys & Key West is easy and breezy, with weather that’s ideal for all types of outdoor activities on and in the water and in the Keys’ scenic wide-open spaces. As sustainability remains a priority with restoration and preservation of the Keys’ fragile environment and natural resources, plans for a new satellite land-based coral nursery are underway to expand Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium’s resilience-focused coral restoration efforts in the Upper Keys.
In the Middle Keys, a new 60-person visitor tram, to run along the newly reopened 2.2-mile span of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, or “Old Seven,” is soon to be operational to take visitors to historic Pigeon Key, the tiny island nestled beneath. The landmark old bridge parallels the Florida Keys Overseas Highway.
Here's what’s new in the Keys:
In Key Largo, the former Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort is now the 153-unit Reefhouse Resort & Marina, an Opal Collection resort portfolio member. Located on 17 acres overlooking Blackwater Sound, Reefhouse Resort and Marina includes traditional and two-bedroom suite-style accommodations, a private beach, on-site marina and dive shop. Amenities include By the Bay Spa, a 24-hour fitness center, pool, poolside Flipper's Bar, Breezer’s Tiki Bar and Gus' Grille for all-day dining in a waterfront setting with outdoor covered patio. The property also features 50,000 square feet of indoor and private outdoor space for gatherings of up to 200 guests. Its on-site Key Largo Conference Center offers seating for 250. Reefhouse Resort & Marina is located at 103800 Overseas Highway. Visit ReefhouseKeyLargo.com or call 305-453-0000.
In Islamorada, Chesapeake Beach Resort has completed extensive resort room renovations. It offers 52 total rooms and suites including 32 oceanfront and 20 standard rooms, each with balconies; two pools, beach bar and sandy beach venue for weddings, events, family reunions and corporate retreats. Also fully renovated is the resort lobby, with a newly added gift shop. The property is adding 13 villas by July 1 and a Tiki bar. Kayaks, paddleboards and fishing rods are available for rent; a boat ramp and dock are to open this summer. It’s located at 83409 Overseas Highway. Visit chesapeake-resort.com or call 305-664-4662.
In Islamorada, Sun Outdoors is expanding its presence in the Keys with its third RV resort, the new 12-acre Sun Outdoors Islamorada RV, scheduled to open by late 2022 at 87425 Old Highway #1. Included are to be 82 RV sites, heated pool, private boat dock with rental slips, workout center, sunning beach area and Tiki hut. Sun Outdoors also owns Sun Outdoors Key Largo, the former Riptide RV Resort & Marina at 97680 Overseas Highway, with six motel rooms, two efficiencies and 12 vacation rental units and 35 full hookup sites. Sun Outdoors Marathon, the former Pelican RV Resort & Marina at 59151 Overseas Highway, has 16 full hook-up RV sites, seven motel rooms, three efficiencies, 11 vacation rentals and 300 feet of waterfront. The three properties are pet-friendly and welcome all ages. Visit sunoutdoors.com and soislamorada.com or call 888-886-2477.
On Duck Key, the 60-acre Hawks Cay Resort, a AAA Four-Diamond Award and Preferred Hotel Group Lifestyle Collection member, is using six robots to assist with patron service at its casual waterfront Angler & Ale marina restaurant. The robots support food and beverage team members by serving prepared meals and returning dishes to the kitchen, enabling the resort to put team members in guest-facing positions. The property also is using robots to vacuum and sweep guest corridors and event meeting spaces on a timed schedule, and to sanitize solid floor surfaces, dispensing a cleaning solution and wiping the floors. Hawks Cay is billed as the largest resort in the Florida Keys. Visit hawkscayresort.com or call 855-395-5539.
Ever slept in an Airstream RV? In Marathon, Coconut Cay RV Resort and Marina, adjacent to Florida Keys Marathon International Airport, features minimum three-night stays in two Airstreams — named Betty and Delia — with outdoor seating area, picnic table, two chairs, mat and gas grill. Priced from $239 per night, the Airstreams are stocked with hotel-quality linens, plush towels, cookware, a dishwasher, coffee maker and gourmet coffee. “Betty” sleeps two adults and one or two small children, while “Delia” sleeps up to three adults and two small children. Coconut Cay Resort and Marina has 24-hour security cameras, boat slips for rent, a dog walk area, laundry facility, outdoor pool, showers, sunset beach and kayak and bicycle rentals. Opened in 2020, Coconut Cay is located at 7200 Aviation Blvd. Visit staysublime.com/coconut-cay-rv-resort-marina or call 260-782-5463.
In Marathon, Isla Bella Beach Resort has unveiled its new Polynesian-inspired restaurant, Mahina at Isla Bella Beach Resort, with upscale Pacific Rim cuisine flavored with Japanese, Korean, Polynesian and Micronesian influences. Fare highlights include squid ink linguine, Ahi tuna poke, lobster-crusted mahi-mahi with macadamia nut orange brown butter, and a 14-ounce Kurabota pork chop marinated for 24 hours in Thai herbs. Mahina's dining is influenced by easy access to fresh local Florida Keys seafood and ambiance of the resort's oceanfront dining. Mahina seats 34 inside, 64 on the patio, and 60 on its sand area; dinner reservations are encouraged. The venue is on-site at 1 Knights Key Blvd. Visit islabellabeachresort.com/dining/mahina/ or call 786-638-8106.
In Key West, the 6-acre 293-room Southernmost Beach Resort at 1319 Duval St. has unveiled a $15 million renovation to its exterior facade, breezeways and guest rooms. Rooms are accented with warm sand tones and muted nautical blue shades. The resort features three pools, three al fresco bars, signature oceanfront restaurant Southernmost Beach Café, full-service spa offering beachside massages, cabanas, beach access and a secluded tanning pier. The resort's lobby and the Pineapple Pool and Bar are also refurbished. The Guesthouses at Southernmost Beach Resort — which include 50 units in the adjacent Avalon and Duval Gardens properties acquired by Southernmost Beach Resort in 2021 — and the resort’s on-site La Mer and Dewey buildings are slated for renovations in 2023. Visit SouthernmostBeachResort.com or call 800-354-4455.
In the Middle Keys, visitors and residents are once again cycling, walking, running, rollerblading and watching sunrises and sunsets along a section of the famed Old Seven Mile Bridge that parallels the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. A 2.2-mile span of the bridge nicknamed "Old Seven" reopened to pedestrian recreation in January after a renovation that began in 2017. The landmark structure was originally the centerpiece of railroad magnate Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, which debuted in 1912 and connected the Keys with each other and mainland Florida for the first time. The 2.2-mile section serves as the gateway to Pigeon Key, a tiny island nestled beneath the old bridge that was once home to about 400 workers constructing the railroad. A 60-passsenger visitor tram is scheduled to be operational by May to run along the historic span taking visitors to Pigeon Key. The tram is to feature a locomotive front and two 30-passenger coaches. The modern-day Seven Mile Bridge (actually 6.79 miles long) marks its 40th birthday May 24 as one of the world’s longest segmental bridges. Visit pigeonkey.net or call 305-743-5999.
The new Flamingo Lodge & Restaurant in Everglades National Park, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, continues its construction from modified and enhanced shipping containers to be connected by a boardwalk. The new facilities are to open later this year in the park’s Flamingo area on mainland Monroe County, about a 40-minute drive from the park’s entrance. The 24-unit lodge is to offer one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchenettes and balcony fronting Florida Bay, and include studios and those with accessibility. The new indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar is to be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A new Flamingo Visitor Center also is under construction. Everglades National Park is to culminate its 75th anniversary Dec. 6. Visit flamingoeverglades.com/flamingo-lodge-restaurant or call 855-708-2207.
Mote Maine Laboratory & Aquarium is developing a satellite land-based coral nursery — the first in Key Largo and Mote’s third land-based nursery in the Keys — at Reefhouse Resort & Marina, formerly the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort at 103800 Overseas Highway. The new facility will expand Mote’s land-based resilience-focused coral restoration efforts to the Upper Keys. It’s expected to be operational by summer with capacity of 20,000 coral fragments. Permits for additional Upper Keys underwater nurseries are pending. Mote’s second satellite land-based coral nursery, unveiled in May 2021, is at Bud ‘N Mary’s marina in Islamorada. Through a partnership with I.CARE, that mission is to transplant brain, star and branching corals raised both onshore and offshore by Mote to reefs off Islamorada. Mote has outplanted more than 140,000 coral fragments, with a 90 percent average survival rate, on Florida’s Coral Reef. In addition, thousands of corals are growing at Mote’s land-based nurseries on Summerland Key and Islamorada and in two underwater Lower Keys coral nurseries. The Lower Keys’ Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration is based on Summerland Key. Visit mote.org or call 305-745-2729.
In Key West, the Old Island Restoration Foundation’s Oldest House Museum and Gardens has completed a full outdoor garden redesign and renovation that began in April 2021. The garden now includes 13,000 square feet of subtropical foliage, meandering gravel paths and brick walkways. It can accommodate up to 120 seated diners or 300 for a cocktail party, event or wedding. On-site, the Oldest House Museum is Key West’s most historic home, dating back to 1829. A new fire suppression system, designed to protect and preserve the historic largely wooden structure, was recently completed. Located at 322 Duval St., the property is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Visit oirf.org or oldesthousekeywest.com or call 305-294-9501.
The Key West City Commission has approved a plan to revitalize and redesign the island city’s famed Mallory Square, known worldwide for its nightly sunset celebrations. The Sunset Celebration/Mallory Square Master Plan includes upgrading the space into a public plaza for outdoor activities with enhanced landscaping, lighting, signage and seating, new sunshades and outdoor performance space at the Waterfront Playhouse theater. Planning firm Sasaki of Watertown, Massachusetts, in its written proposal, said Mallory Square “should be a flexible, vibrant public hub for arts, events and play.”
In Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park, the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, currently closed but scheduled to reopen fully by late 2022, is planning to showcase a freestanding main exhibit focusing on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary through multiple videos and hands-on interactive activities. Another exhibit is to highlight Florida Keys mangroves and allow visitors to crawl and climb through life-like mangrove branches. Visit floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html or call 305-809-4750.
In Marathon Captain Pip's Marina & Hideaway has a new snorkeling boat, Island Spirit, offering all-day excursion trips, first heading to Sombrero Lighthouse for a snorkel, then off to Money Key for lunch and relaxing, for eight to 19 passengers. The tiny Money Key has appeared in several movies, including "License to Kill," "True Lies," "2 Fast 2 Furious," and "Mission: Impossible III." At Captain Pip's, resort overnight accommodations include 10 guest rooms, 10 one-bedroom apartments, seven two-bedroom apartments and seven efficiency units. Captain Pip’s, with a fleet of 20 rental boats, also offers parasailing and jet skis, kayaks and paddleboards for rent. It's located at 1480 Overseas Highway. Visit captainpips.com or call 305-743-4403.
On Stock Island Bluesail Vacation Yachts & Sailing Academy announces a new sailing training program, The Boat Owner Master Class. The training is bundled into three weeklong sessions. The program offers customized and private clinics for each student or family to educate new boat owners or those awaiting the delivery of a new boat to improve overall seamanship and to accommodate insurance underwriter requirements for on-the-water experiences. The assessment tools used in this program are verified by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators via the American National Standards Institute. Training clinics also are conducted aboard vessels that have passed U.S. Coast Guard examinations for meeting safety requirements. Visit bluesailcharter.com or call 813-601-5243.
Dallas-based Suntex Marina Investors LLC has acquired Garrison Bight Marina in Key West and Caloosa Cove Marina in Islamorada. The full-service Garrison Bight Marina consists of 17 wet slips and 227 dry slips, indoor and outdoor storage, a fuel dock, ship store, Yamaha motor sales and service center and waterside dining at Thai Island. Renovations are planned for the Garrison Bight dock and offices. Caloosa Cove Marina’s amenities include 32 wet slips accommodating boats up to 50 feet long, 88 dry slips, a general store and gas station, the on-site Caloosa Cove Resort with suite accommodations and Habanos Oceanfront Dining restaurant serving Cuban cuisine. The Suntex Keys marina portfolio also includes the 74-slip Faro Blanco Resort Marina, accommodating vessels between 35 and 140 feet long. Marina guests have use of Faro Blanco Resort’s amenities. Visit suntexmarinas.com or call 972-789-1400.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
06 Oct 21TRAINING | COMPETITION
Key Lime Academy Your Source for “Edutainment”Like the destination itself, Key Lime Academy has been designed to educate, inspire and entertain ...Read moreKey Lime Academy Your Source for “Edutainment” - News & announcementsLike the destination itself, Key Lime Academy has been designed to educate, inspire and entertain while unveiling all of what the Florida Keys has to offer. Similar to the Overseas Highway, Key Lime Academy is visually stimulating and allows navigators to travel through the modules at their own pace. Along the way, you will meet a diverse group of local personalities who will introduce themselves through a series of short videos. A few short quizzes will test your retention of Florida Keys facts, and a completion rate of 80% or greater will award you a Certificate of Completion. You may print and frame this keepsake and show your Conch Republic spirit with pride! As a graduate of Key Lime Academy, you will have access to our Suggested Itineraries; a series of vacation ideas written by locals offering insider tips on attractions, photo ops, restaurants and places worth discovering. But be careful — chances are these suggestions will inspire your own visit to the Florida Keys sometime very soon. Let’s get started!
21 Sep 21Partner News
Hidden Foodie Favorites Flavor the Florida Keys & Key WestIn the Florida Keys & Key West, fresh seafood is a must for just about ...Read moreHidden Foodie Favorites Flavor the Florida Keys & Key West - News & announcementsIn the Florida Keys & Key West, fresh seafood is a must for just about every meal and, with the abundance of fish and seafood in Keys waters, it’s no wonder the island chain’s indigenous cuisine relies on it. Keys restaurants range from gourmet hotspots to dockside seafood “shacks” and trendy food trucks where guests can choose from a wide variety of options. Many excellent restaurants along the historic Florida Keys Overseas Highway provide tasty temptations. But if diners venture into less-explored areas, the possibilities become virtually endless. Local fisherman offloading their catches, boats creaking along the dock, pelicans looking for treats, lobster traps neatly stacked and fishing nets being prepared all set the scene for a delicious meal at The Backyard Café at Key Largo Fisheries. This 50-year-old spot remains family-operated with the third generation working the business. Key Largo Fisheries was opened in 1972 and has blossomed into the full-fledged wholesale, retail and cafe emporium it is today. Fresh locally caught seafood is on the menu at this working waterfront eatery. Diners can enjoy stone crab claws (when in season of course), Florida lobster, shrimp, snapper and more. Whether it’s lightly grilled in a delicious sandwich or battered and fried on a platter, the freshness of Florida seafood comes through — and diners might even run into the fisherman who caught their meal. Continuing south to Islamorada leads visitors to another local favorite: Bad Boy Burrito. Located off the highway, it’s a worthwhile excursion for people seeking authentic Mexican food combined with fresh local seafood. Standouts include Cayo Hueso Fish Tacos, grilled local fresh fish served on handmade corn tortillas with special verde sauce and a choice of toppings, and Baja Fish Tacos, fried local fish served on flour tortillas with freshly made pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise. Meat lovers can sample one of Bad Boy’s signature burritos with either pork carnitas, ground Kobe beef or skirt steak complete with a choice of toppings. Patrons can pair their meal with a refreshing watermelon agua fresca or limeade. The emporium has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” — and as show host Guy Fieri can attest, a visit to Bad Boy is well worth it. Hidden away on the Boot Key Harbor Waterway in Marathon stands the Chiki Tiki Bar & Grille at Burdines Waterfront. Locals who frequent the restaurant just call it “Burdines” and its reasonable prices and delicious food make it a popular stop. The Chiki Tiki is up a flight of stairs, which means diners can enjoy a lovely breeze and a great view of the Florida Keys’ famous sunsets. Delectable dishes include fresh dolphin (mahi-mahi) sandwiches, certified Angus beef burgers and the signature tower of fries. And while Key lime pie can be found on almost every menu, the Chiki Tiki’s version is fried! Rolled in a tortilla and then deep fried, this unexpected take on Key lime pie keeps locals and visitors alike coming back for more. Journey further south into the Big Pine and Lower Keys region and discover an oasis tucked away just off the highway. Kiki’s Sandbar Bar & Grille is an easygoing beachfront eatery doling out pub grub and seafood favorites. Attractions include a patio, boat dock and beachside seating. A locals’ hangout and popular wedding locale, Kiki’s serves up blackened shrimp tacos, a grilled snapper filet sandwich and other down-home Keys favorites. Anglers coming in from a day of fishing can have the chef cook their catch and grab an ice-cold refreshment. Kiki’s also offers nightly live music in a relaxed, pet-friendly and laid-back atmosphere. Rounding out the list of foodie favorites is Pepe’s Café in Key West. The oldest restaurant on the island (a Cuban fisherman opened the place in 1909), Pepe’s is worth a visit for the history alone — though it’s the food that keeps people coming back again and again. The restaurant serves everything from mouthwatering classic breakfasts that include hearty omelets, pancakes and homemade granola to burgers and blackened fish sandwiches at lunch and juicy pork chops and steaks for dinner. The eatery’s motto is “a fairly good place, for quite a long while,” but that’s far too unassuming to describe a visit to Pepe’s. With a range of options for even the most discerning diner, it’s easy to see why taking the road less traveled in the Florida Keys can lead to some truly outstanding culinary experiences. Bon appétit! Or Buen provecho!
18 Feb 21Partner News
Tripadvisor Names Key West Among Top Five U.S. Destinations for 2021Tripadvisor has named Key West among the five most popular domestic destinations in its 2021 ...Read moreTripadvisor Names Key West Among Top Five U.S. Destinations for 2021 - News & announcements
Tripadvisor has named Key West among the five most popular domestic destinations in its 2021 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards.Key West ranks just behind New York, New York; Maui, Hawaii; Las Vegas, Nevada; and New Orleans, Louisiana, as best destinations in the United States. It is one of three Florida cities on Tripadvisor’s roster of top 25 domestic destinations, with Orlando ranked 14th and Miami Beach at 18th.“Key West’s rebound as a popular vacation destination is a response to our wide open spaces, subtropical island breezes and abundance of water activities,” said Stacey Mitchell, director of the Florida Keys tourism council. “Visitors seeking a nature-based respite from the stressors of everyday life can find it in organically socially distant experiences in our backcountry waters, legendary sunsets and bicycling through our lazy lanes and historic neighborhoods,” Mitchell added. Describing Key West, Tripadvisor mused: “Does time ever pass in the Florida Keys? Everyone and everything in Key West seems to go at its own pace, right down to the ice melting slooooowly in your margarita glass. “Of course, it’s not all limes and leisure — Key West is known as the ‘Winter White House’ because of its appeal to visiting U.S. presidents, and the island has been home to literary greats like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams,” Tripadvisor stated. “The diving here is phenomenal, as is the kid-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center.” The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park are cited as “don’t miss” attractions. Established in 2002, Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards are the highest honor Tripadvisor bestows. The awards are based on millions of reviews and opinions from travelers around the world, reflecting “the best of the best” for service, quality and customer satisfaction, from hotels and accommodations to destinations, attractions, restaurants and experiences. Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best award winners are selected annually based on feedback from millions of Tripadvisor members.